What Happens When We Approach Our Kids With an Empty Tank

by | Apr 13, 2020 | Healthy Parents, Parenting

Sometimes, especially when we’re stressed and our tank is on empty, it’s easy to approach kids with our needs instead of a full heart.

We demand the good behaviour that “fills our tank” instead of filling them with our love. (I certainly remember doing that!) It can look like paper-thin tolerance or hair-trigger frustration as our expectations aren’t met. Here’s an example:

“I WANT….”

  1. respect.
  2. perfect obedience.
  3. you to make me look good.
  4. an even-tempered child (not a passionate or strong-willed one).

These expectations are usually unspoken, but are perceived by kids, who aren’t equipped to meet parents’ needs in that way. It creates a lose-lose dynamic of disappointment (parents) and shame (kids).

Faith-filled parenting protects both parents and kids from the dynamic of “I WANT” by making four commitments:


  1. understand and care for me (so I am “filled” and ready to give).
  2. understand and enjoy you.
  3. work to bring out the best in you and help you find your path.
  4. guide you to “make it right” when you’ve gotten off track.

When parents lean into their God-given identity as beloved children of the King, they can release their kids from the burden of meeting their needs. Then these “I WILL” commitments can bring great freedom and joy as parents feel purposeful and kids feel truly encouraged.

Used with permission. Originally published at connectedfamilies.org.